Yes They’re Back. No Ti Amo

May 28th, 2017

Image result for lucky soul no ti amo This blog has had a lot of love for Lucky Soul and seven years has been too long to wait for new music from them. But they are back, and you can read what has happened to them, and how they are responding to the very different world of 2017 (and pre-order their new album).  Meanwhile, they have released their first single, the reflective disco stormer No Ti Amo to remind us why we missed them so much. Like their best songs, you can dance to it at the party, bop along to it in the car and reflect on it at home.

Shortcuts To Infinity

May 27th, 2017

DVD Stephen Kalinich has been an integral part of the Beach Boys story, having written with all the Wilson brothers, and now there is a movie project about him in the works, subject to some funding. Head over to this Kickstarter page to find out more.

Happy 50th!

May 26th, 2017

The Beatles, holding marching band instruments and wearing colourful uniforms, stand near a grave covered with flowers that spell "Beatles". Standing behind the band are several dozen famous people. Today (at  least as far as the UK is concerned) is the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - probably the best known album release of all time, and one that remains very close to the top of critical polls, aside from some staggering commercial success. There are a lot of what-ifs had SMiLE been released a few months earlier as originally planned, but today is about celebrating the record that expanded what rock music could do, and reflected the joys, hopes and fears of the summer of love. 50 years later, we could certainly do with another summer of love, joy and compassion.

SMiLE Track-By-Track XV: Mrs O’Leary’s Cow

May 24th, 2017

This is the one track in the Beach Boys/Brian Wilson canon that genuinely scares me, and one that I have mixed feelings about. Of course, it has a history with Brian Wilson’s own paranoia and belief that the track had some sort of power to inflict troubles, but the reality is that the track became a key part of the SMiLE debacle that imposed huge mental chains on Brian.

Mrs O’Leary’s Cow is a track like no other in Brian’s ouevre. Forget the silly whistles that lead-in the track; the music is like a descent to hell, with a heaviness that rival’s anything that metal can bring up. It’s not necessarily an enjoyable experience, but there is a power that is overwhelming, and no amount of fireman’s hats and whistling can distract that there is something intense happening here.

Most peversely, but in line with the singularity of this piece, the song got the only proper Grammy that Brian and the Beach Boys ever got, for best instumental. This is despite the humming in the song, and even more so, despite Brian being known as the master of vocal harmony.

But in album of duality, the element fire, which this song clearly represents, has the most duality of all. Fire can detroy and kill, but at the same time, it can also renew by burning out the old to allow the new to grow. And that is the miracle of SMiLE, that the fire that almost consumed Brian eventually lead to his biggest redemption.

 

It Wasn’t SMiLE But….

May 23rd, 2017

1967 was the Summer of Love, the year of Sgt. Pepper and the year SMiLE didn’t happen. But even although the Beach Boys faded from their 1966 critical and commercial success, they did do quite a lot, including two studio albums.

To celebrate that, we will now be getting 2 CDs worth of rarities, including the first stereo mix of Wild Honey, on 30 June. You can see more detail here, and start looking forward to celebrating a year that still saw some great new Beach Boys music.

The Revolution We Need

May 22nd, 2017

Image result for a kind revolution Paul Weller’s record-making career now spans 40 years, and while there is a fair musical distance from 1977s In The City to Weller’s latest record, most of his work is connected by power, melodicism and also a desire to progress and not be constrained by the previous record..this is the person who broke up his band at the height of their success to “progress” his music.

Weller’s albums in the since 2008 have received quite a bit of acclaim for being willing to experiment and move beyond the “mod” rock boundaries. Weller has also been known to be quite political, especially in his Style Council, but his new revolution of his latest record moves the revolution from the political to the personal -to the radical idea that one may have to change oneself.

So his latest record, with a title reflecting that the world could do with a lot more kindness, sets out this new world mood as well his ongoing musical progression. It’s a bit more gospel-ly, a bit more melodic, even a little more hearkening back to the Style Council, but it is also testament to Weller’s ongoing drive for quality, meaning and good music. There are 10 solid tracks, with the picks being Long Long Road, The Cranes Are Back and The Impossible Idea which all move the album to an almost transcendental level with a mixture of hope and self-reflection.

51 Years Great

May 16th, 2017

Although the Pet Sounds 50 year tour is still ongoing, the greatest album ever turns 51 today. Here is what I said about it a year ago.

SMiLE Track-By-Track XIV: Wind Chimes

May 15th, 2017

Windchimes have a distinctly spiritual quality and this song pays tribute to these popular household items, as well the air element. As with much of SMiLE, there is a real sense of contrast, especially between the slow, ethereal first part of the song and the quite heavy instrumental fadeout. Of course, the element air is one of contrasts- it can be the light breeze, or the raging hurricane.

Never-Ending Pet Sounds

May 12th, 2017

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5073209bc4aa6253939f5db3/t/58b9855503596e5565caf002/1488553407840/01.png?format=500w OK, it will never equal Dylan’s “Never-ending” tour, but the extension of Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds tour well into the 52nd year of the album’s existence is pretty impressive. 2017 will now see 83 shows, slightly down on 2016, but still meaning that Brian and his band will spend almost one in four nights in 2017 on the road.

SMiLE Track-By-Track XIII: On A Holiday

May 7th, 2017

This is an interesting track, a bit of a break (holiday?) from the elements theme. Instrumental sections called Holiday were known to collectors, but on the completed 2004 album, it becomes a fully realised vocal track called On A Holiday. The “pirate” lyrics gave the track and album a certain coolness, and there was speculation whether the pirates referred back to the abovementioned collectors. Nick Walusko did his pirate rap and overall, this was one of the fun moments on SMiLE.

Things get a bit more serious at the end with the beautiful “long long ago” and the “whispering winds” section leading into the next part of the “elements”…